The historic College Hill neighborhood on St. Louis’ north side is getting a $50,000 boost through a 2012 Wells Fargo grant program designed to help stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods hard-hit by the economy.
The money is being donated to LCMS National Housing Support Corporation, operating as Lutheran Housing Support, which is heading up a community-led effort to restore the neighborhood, including installing community gardens, renovating aging homes and building new ones. The Wells Fargo donation will help support three new model homes to be built in the neighborhood.
“Lutheran Housing Support’s overarching goal is to return College Hill to a diverse community that is market-desirable, self-sustaining, and socially and economically viable,” said Nicole Ridley, the organization’s CEO. “The grant generously provided to us by Wells Fargo will be instrumental in helping us achieve this goal.”
The grant is one of 59 Wells Fargo is making to nonprofits, totaling $6 million, through the company’s Leading The Way Home® Priority Markets Initiative. The grant program provides support for neighborhood stabilization projects that are located in areas designated for revitalization to stimulate growth, stability and investment in distressed areas. Since 2009, the program has provided more than $18 million to more than 75 communities.
“The purpose of the 2012 Priority Markets Initiative is to stabilize and rebuild local communities, such as the College Hill neighborhood,” said Laraine Davis, Wells Fargo’s vice-president of community relations in St. Louis. “These have been deeply challenging economic times for many, and we’re putting dollars to work so that we can help spur revitalization in the communities that need it the most.”
Lutheran Housing Support has been working in the College Hill neighborhood since 2006, when it reached out to residents to tap their ideas in building a plan — which included a market analysis of neighborhood needs — to reshape the area.
In the last five years, the project has resulted in the restoration of 68 homes and the acquisition of a number of vacant lots. Residents and others have contributed more than 15,000 volunteer hours for community gardening, neighborhood cleanup and other projects.
Lutheran Housing Support also has collaborated with other nonprofits, agencies and faith-based organizations to provide services in the area.
The next phase, supported in part by the $50,000 grant, will focus on filling in the neighborhood with new, affordable homes. The homes will be approximately 1,300 square feet, with three bedrooms and at least 1.5 baths. Groundbreaking is set for this spring.
College Hill is the home of St. Paul Lutheran Church, founded in 1862. The area also hosts one of the city’s oldest houses — the home of War of 1812 veteran Captain Lewis Bissell — and water towers that are local and national landmarks.
Lutheran Housing Support (LHS) is a separately incorporated nonprofit that is the community-development entity of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. The agency connects LCMS congregations, districts, LCMS Recognized Service Organizations and their community partners with expertise and financial resources to help revitalize neighborhoods and provide affordable housing.
LHS has partnered with congregations and civic and business leaders to revitalize College Hill, the Spring Creek Nehemiah area in New York City, the Ezra Housing project in Chicago and the Lutheran Community Outreach Center in Fort Wayne, Ind.
To learn more about Lutheran Housing Support, visit its website at www.lcms.org/lhs.
Posted Jan. 4, 2013